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Tackling the More Complex Aspects of Collaboration

Posted - April 16, 2014

Tackling the More Complex Aspects of Collaboration

Collaboration can be a tricky strategy to tackle at first, but best practices can make the challenge of collaborative distribution worth pursuing.  Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when beginning any co-loading partnership in order to achieve the best possible results:

  1. Identify the ideal collaborative partner.  This partner needs to have a similar commodity value. Having the same perspective will help partners synchronize and value the relationship.  This is a key point in maintaining, as well as growing, the benefits that co-loading can offer.
  2. Redefine the “perfect load”. A standard U.S. 53-foot truckload can hold 43,000 pounds and 3,500 cubic feet of freight at full capacity. In order to “optimize” capacity utilization, shippers can seek out collaboration solutions that get as close to these “perfect load” metrics as possible.
  3. Identify compatibility and compliance issues.  Prospective partners need to discuss potential logistics solutions. Since collaborating companies are never going to be identical in product, operation, or shipping needs, a solution needs to be carefully engineered for each opportunity.  Partners need to understand how each company is structured within its priorities, potential restrictions or constraints, as well as what technology infrastructure is in place.
  4. Test the operational cycle to find gaps.  Test loading with each shipper to determine actual freight compatibility is a key part of the process, and should be carefully monitored and reviewed with each co-load partner.
  5. Develop process improvements. Continuous improvement adjustments should be implemented to proactively manage collaborative projects.
  6. Identify and overcome external barriers.  Challenges such as cross-border shipping can be compounded when there are products from two shippers sharing the same container. The key to overcoming these potential issues is education and trusted relationships.
  7. Measure results.  Both parties in the partnership need to be diligent and consistent in measuring results to ensure that the desired, mutually-beneficial outcomes are attained. Again, partnering with a company that has similar commodity value helps to keep the relationship on equal and balanced footing.

Network analysis, supply chain knowledge and a robust addition of innovative thinking can create a solid roadmap for a successful collaborative relationship.  Challenging the shipping norm and partnering with other forward-thinking companies can not only help shippers achieve as close to the “perfect load” as possible, but offers further efficiency and logistics savings.  Powerful collaboration partnerships = powerful results.

Is your organization looking to take advantage of a collaborative distribution strategy?